By: Christopher D. Carroll, Director, Health Care Financing and Systems Integration, Office of Policy, Planning, and Innovation, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
“Recently, SAMHSA had the opportunity to partner with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to host an event recognizing the expansion of behavioral health care made possible by the Affordable Care Act, and the positive impact it has had on people in recovery.
During the event, we heard the personal stories of two individuals whose lives were made better by the Affordable Care Act. Their moving stories—of how the Affordable Care Act helped them and their loved ones stay in recovery—underscored how vital behavioral health care is to our nation.
The good news is that mental health and substance use disorder services are among the 10 essential health benefits that most insurance plans must cover under the Affordable Care Act. This can include behavioral health treatment, counseling and psychotherapy. The Affordable Care Act’s positive influence on one’s ability to access mental health and substance use disorder services underscores the important role that each of us plays in ensuring people requiring behavioral health services get the help they need by getting covered.
SAMHSA’s efforts to safeguard mental health and substance use disorder services will make sure this work remains a priority for the nation. The Affordable Care Act makes health insurance more affordable for millions of people living with mental health and substance use disorders, and who have often had trouble getting private insurance in the past. Now, there are special insurance protections to help. The law also includes historic parity protections that require most group health plans and health insurance issuers providing mental health or substance use disorder benefits to ensure that when coverage for behavioral health services are provided, that these benefits are generally comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care. Deductibles, copays, out of pocket maximums and treatment limitations for substance use disorders will have the same requirements and benefits offered for other medical care. Full implementation of the ACA gives many more Americans in need of substance use disorder treatment an opportunity to be treated.
During the panel discussion, the audience asked several insightful questions. I wasn’t able to get to all of them before we ran out of time. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to answer some of them now.”
Source: SAMHSA.gov – February 13, 2015